Explanatory Writing Prompts

Instructor: Adam Nystrom

Adam owns a Master's degree in Professional and Digital Media Writing. During his time as a graduate assistant, he developed lesson plans for upper-level English courses.

Explanatory writing is all about tackling a subject from a purely informative point of view. Check out the explanatory writing prompts in this article and incorporate them into your study plan. You can also explore a few additional resources to improve your essay writing.

Overview of Explanatory Prompts

Explanatory or informative writing prompts are an important tool for teachers and students alike, particularly in light of Common Core ELA standards, which cover this writing style. The informative essay topics below are divided by education level.

Elementary School

  • Picture your favorite animal, then explain its unique features, including its habitat, physical traits and more.
  • Write about your hometown, and explain what you like most about it. You might also talk about its population size, its parks and schools, and what it means to your family.
  • Explain how to play your favorite game to someone who has never played it. Cover all the rules to the best of your ability.

Middle School

  • If there was one person in the world you could trade lives with for one day, who would that person be? Explain why you'd pick this person, and think about any possible downsides to the trade.
  • The world is full of inventions large and small. Which one is the most important to you and why? Explain how this invention affects your everyday life in different ways, or why it's so important to the world in general.
  • What's the most dangerous situation you could be in and how would you get out of it, if possible? Describe the setting, any people that may be involved and what exactly makes the situation so dangerous.

High School

  • Select one important quote from a historical figure, celebrity or athlete and apply it to your life. How does the line appeal to you, and what do you take from it? If you and the speaker come from wildly different backgrounds, how does such an expression create a common ground?
  • Think of the last book you read, or the last great movie you saw. Look beneath the surface of the plot and explore the underlying themes of the story. How are the characters portrayed? Does the story hold up well against others in its established genre?
  • Choose one of the many talking points that typically come up in debates during election season. How does the current two-party system typically differ on one such issue? Does one side usually perform a better job at defending their position?

Hone Your Skills

If you want to bolster your essay-writing skills, check out these fun and easy-to-follow resources for middle and high schoolers from

If you're a teacher, check out a few guides that can help you teach the essay portion of the Common Core:

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